U.S. Ambassador Kelly Degnan on December 2 criticized the appointment of four Supreme Court judges as well as remarks by Georgian Dream leadership about possible backtracking on the constitutional amendments envisaged by the EU-brokered April 19 deal.
Criticizing Supreme Court Appointments
Speaking with reporters, the Ambassador said it is “still puzzling and very, very disappointing” the top court appointments went forward “ahead of many of the other priorities that this country is facing.”
The Ambassador noted it is “hard to understand why there was such a need to rush through these appointments,” considering the commitment to undertake judicial reforms first and as “so many other challenges facing this country have been neglected.”
“Now we have four more judges who have been appointed through a process that was not transparent, that was not accountable,” said Ambassador Degnan, adding that “the people of Georgia don’t have information about the quality qualifications of these judges that are now on the Supreme Court for lifetime appointments.”
She stressed that the purpose of the judiciary reforms, agreed by the GD and the opposition in the EU-mediated deal, was to bring “greater transparency and accountability, so that Georgian citizens have confidence that the judges in their courts are qualified, ethical, and impartial.”
Criticizing Possible Backtracking on Constitutional Changes
Moving on to the criticism towards the ruling party seemingly backtracking on constitutional amendments to lower threshold and make the next parliamentary elections fully proportional, the U.S. Ambassador said “some don’t seem to understand that a democracy requires a plurality of views.”
“One person, one-party ruling, everything works against that. In fact, that risks the tyranny of the majority,” she highlighted.
She recalled that both Georgian ruling party and opposition politicians agreed on lower threshold being a positive development thing during the negotiations for electoral reform, which was later reflected in April 19 agreement.
Noting that lower threshold for October 2020 Parliamentary Elections allowed the diversity of nine parties to enter legislature, Ambassador Degnan said retaining 5% threshold would likely result in only two or three parties being represented in the Parliament.
“That’s not the trajectory that would allow greater diversity, greater plurality in the parliament that would allow more Georgian views perspectives to be represented in Parliament,” she concluded.